Difficulty thinking, trouble remembering, feeling as though you are seeing the world through a haze. Does this sound anything like you? Then you know what it is like to experience brain fog.
Although everyone most likely will experience these symptoms at one point in their life, people with certain conditions, like celiac disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological disorders, and autism, battle brain fog on a frequent—even daily—basis.
If you’re one of them, then you will want to make sure to stock your fridge and pantry with certain foods that assist you in your battle against brain fog.
The brain does a lot of work for your body and typically requires 20 percent of the fuel, even though it only makes up a small percentage of your body in terms of weight.
In addition to glucose, it also requires some key nutrients to keep everything functioning well: vitamin E, the B-vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of antioxidants. Choosing foods that have copious amounts of these nutrients is a strong step toward overcoming, or at least reducing, your brain fog.
Before getting too far into what foods to eat, it’s important to start with the most important nutrient of all: water. Humans are about 60 percent water, and our brains need hydration just as much as the rest of our body.
Upon experiencing just one instance of dehydration, your brain starts to have to increase its effort to perform the same tasks. Just imagine the impact of chronic dehydration. After a period of time, your body no longer sufficiently adapts, and you are left with diminished cognitive capabilities.
So, how much water do you need to drink? The answer varies from individual to individual, but the adequate intake of water from the Institute of Medicine is 125 ounces for me or 91 ounces for women, each day.
If you follow the old 8 x 8-ounce glasses of water per day, you will get partially close to these levels. If you exercise, live in a hot and humid environment, or have certain conditions, you might need to drink more.
Hydration does not come just from water; certain foods and other liquids also play a role in maintaining adequate hydration. Drinking limited quantities of tea, coffee, and juice, especially if they don’t have added sugar, will help.
You still want to focus on consuming mostly water, though. To enhance the taste of water, infuse it with herbs and/or fruit. And choose filtered water to limit your intake of toxins.
You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants and their ability to fight free radicals. Free radicals and oxidative stress are associated with numerous diseases. Excess oxidative stress also might be a reason why you experience issues with your cognitive function.
The brain requires a tremendous amount of energy, and one of the byproducts of energy production is free radicals. These molecules are not inherently bad and actually have a biological purpose.
However, when the number of free radicals overpasses your body’s antioxidant capacity, that’s when it becomes a health issue.
Consuming higher quantities of antioxidants builds up your body’s capacity to reduce oxidative stress. So, what should you eat? Berries are some of the best sources of antioxidants, especially blueberries.
You can also choose plums, pomegranates, grapes, cherries, kale, beets, green tea, cocoa, and numerous other colorful fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods to boost your arsenal of antioxidants.
Do you want another reason to eat avocado? Avocados contain high quantities of vitamin E and oleic acid, the healthy fat associated with olive oil. The vitamin E and other nutrients in avocados help to battle oxidative stress.
More importantly, vitamin E reduces the oxidative stress that can harm the membrane of the cell. Once the membrane is damaged, then your cells, including neuron cells in the brain, are vulnerable to a number of potential threats. You want to keep that lipid membrane healthy so that you have healthy neurons.
So, make that guacamole or add some avocado slices to your sandwich, salad—or any dish, really—to keep your brain happy. You can also use avocado oil in place of other cooking oils and receive many of the same benefits.
Looking for a quick snack to help boost your cognitive function? A handful of nuts are another good source of many brain-protective nutrients. Nuts also contain high levels of the healthy fats, especially the omega-3 fatty acids, as well as antioxidants.
Studies have found that eating nuts leads to healthier cognitive function, compared to those who don’t eat nuts. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain and improve the signaling between neurons.
You can eat nuts as a snack on their own, or you can add them to salads. Just be sure to choose the varieties that were not made with a lot of oil, salt, sugar, or other unhealthy ingredients.
You are probably getting tired of being told to eat salmon, but the reason it continually pops up on lists of foods to eat is that it contains many healthy nutrients for your body and mind. It is a great food source to battle brain fog due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA.
DHA supports many important brain functions, and it isn’t found in significant quantities in plant sources (although you can find it in specialized algal supplement products). Plus, you also get protein, B-vitamins, and vitamin D, all of which nourish your brain.
Now you have yet another reason to eat salmon a few times a week. When selecting salmon, be sure to choose wild varieties to reduce your toxic load.
Incorporating these foods into your diet is a great way to support your brain and fight brain fog so that you can think clearly once more.
by Dr. Deanna Minich